A couple days after absorbing a 59-14 shellacking at the hands of Oregon, Tennessee coach Butch Jones has decided to open up the Vols’ starting quarterback competition.
Junior Justin Worley started the first three games and is atop the depth chart for Saturday’s game at No. 19 Florida, but Jones told the media on Monday that the quarterback who performs best in practice this week would earn the start.
Worley has completed 61.2 percent of his passes for 372 yards and five touchdowns (with one pick) so far this season. However, he was lackluster against the Ducks, hitting on 15 of 29 for 138 yards and a TD.
But who would replace Worley? Redshirt freshman Nathan Peterman has thrown 12 passes this season, completing six of them for 40 yards. True freshmen Riley Ferguson and Joshua Dobbs haven’t played at all.
It seems like Jones is looking for some sort of dynamic running threat at the position.
“Just like any position in our program, it’s open,” Jones said. “Whatever quarterback has the best week of practice will be the starter for Tennessee when we play Florida. If that means a freshman quarterback, that means a freshman quarterback. We’ll add more quarterback run into our package this week. We just need to find ways to generate big explosive plays. If that’s Josh Dobbs running the read option or Riley Ferguson, that’s what we’ll do.”
Both Ferguson and Dobbs were recruited by Jones, while he inherited Worley and Peterman from Tennessee’s previous staff. Since Jones prefers to run a spread option style offense, he probably feels more comfortable with the guys he recruited at quarterback.
If Tennessee is going to struggle this year anyway on offense, he might as well let his guys take some lumps now so they’ll be ready to perform at a higher level next season.
Report: Gus Malzahn hands play-calling reins to OC
Following yet another pedestrian performance last Saturday, Gus Malzahn took his play-calling to task.
“Hadn’t been very good,” the Auburn head coach said Wednesday. “It’s gotta be better. It’s gotta be better and it will get better.”
To get better, and avoid the further heating of his coaching seat, Malzahn has elected to fire himself.
Citing a source with knowledge of the situation, al.com is reporting that offensive coordinator Rhett Lashlee will call plays in place of Malzahn in what’s almost a must-win game for the coach and the team tonight against LSU. The website writes that “[t]his isn’t the first time Lashlee has called plays in a pivotal game for Auburn… [as] Lashlee called the plays in Auburn’s 26-10 win at Texas A&M last season, the last SEC win for the Tigers.”
Since that game, the Tigers have lost three in a row in conference play.
Lashlee will be orchestrating an offense that, thus far this season, is tied for 86th in scoring offense (26.7 ppg). Take out the 51 points AU scored against Arkansas State in Week 2, and the Tigers averaging 16 points per game against Power Five teams.
WATCH: Like his team, Mark Dantonio disappeared during blowout loss
Who knew that Mark Dantonio was into prestidigitation?
As you already know by now, No. 8 Michigan State was overwhelmed and embarrassed by No. 11 Wisconsin Saturday afternoon, then taken to the woodshed for good measure in a not-as-close-as-it-sounds 30-6 loss in East Lansing. The Spartans’ running game was practically non-existent on the afternoon (2.8 yards per carry), and its special teams weren’t much better.
Those two phases of the game essentially disappeared for the whole of the blowout, as did their head coach at one point in the contest.
Briles embarrassingly began his redemption tour earlier this year with a tone-deaf interview that was overwhelmingly panned. Starr, in an interview during something called the Texas Tribune Festival Saturday, likely trumped that level of embarrassment in the eyes of many as the former president vociferously defended his former coach.
“I believe that Coach Briles is an honorable man who conducted an honorable program,” Starr said by way of the Austin American-Statesman.
An outside review, the details of which have never been made public, accused the school of mishandling rape allegations and alleged that the football program, Briles and his coaching staff included, felt it was above the law.
In one of the lawsuits filed that stem from the rape allegations, one woman claimed that the school and the program were deliberately indifferent to her claims of rape. Despite the appearance of a cultural issue that was pervasive at the Waco school, Starr declined to concur.
“I disagree with the sense that there was a fundamental failure,” said Starr. “I love Title IX. It has been an instrument of great, great reform … [but] the pendulum has swung much too far in one direction. …
“I’m going to resist the issue, or the characterization, that there was an endemic problem. Is there in fact a cultural insensitivity to issues of interpersonal violence? That was not the case at Baylor and is still not the case at Baylor.”
You know that feeling when you’re absolutely positive you should stop talking but simply can’t? When you have the right to remain silent but not the ability? Yeah, that.
Rocky Slop: Tennessee comes up empty twice inside 10-yard line, Florida leads 21-3
If this was supposed to be the year Tennessee finally came out on top in the SEC East, the Florida Gators did not get the memo. Florida is up 21-3 on Tennessee in Knoxville at the half, thanks in part to a Vols offense that has imploded inside the 10-yard line twice in the first half. Tennessee was booed off the field, while on offense, as the final seconds ticked away in the first half. It has been 11 long years since experiencing a win over Florida, so you can imagine the pent-up frustration the home crowd has.
The tempers flared right from the opening kickoff, with Tennessee being called for an unsportsmanlike penalty on the opening kickoff, giving Florida 15 free yards without running a play. Two plays later, Florida starting quarterback Austin Appleby completed a 51-yard pass to Antonio Callaway to the Tennessee four-yard line. Three plays later, the Gators jumped on the Vols with a short pass from Appleby to DeAndre Goolsby for a 7-0 lead right out of the gates.
Tennessee looked to catch a huge break on special teams when Callaway failed to hold on to a punt. Tennessee recovered at the Gators’ two-yard line but was unable to punch it in from the door step on four straight plays. Marcus Maye broke up a pass from Joshua Dobbs intended for Alvin Kamara on fourth down. Down 14-0 in the second quarter, thanks to a touchdown pass from Appleby to Jordan Cronkrite to finish off a 93-yard drive, the Vols worked their way back to inside the 10-yard line and seeing a chance to build some momentum. That hope was dashed when Quincy Wilson picked off a pass from Dobbs to the back of the end zone on third and goal.
Florida turned what could have been three or seven points for Tennessee into a 21-point lead. On the first play of the ensuing possession following the turnover in the end zone, Apply picked up 20 yards through the air with Callaway hauling in a pass.Later, on 2nd and 3, Appleby completed a 36-yard pass to Tyrie Cleveland, and a few plays later it was 21-0 after a video review to confirm Jordan Scarlett had punched one in from the one-yard line.
Nothing has gone well for the Vols, but credit Florida for making the plays they have bene making. The Gators have made plays on both sides of the football and avoided letting a special teams hiccup burn them.